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Cow and Calf Rocks

Natural Rock Feature

<b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by paganpippaleeImage © paganpippalee
Nearest Town:Ilkley (2km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   SE130468 / Sheet: 104
Latitude:53° 55' 0.78" N
Longitude:   1° 48' 7.39" W

Added by Kozmik_Ken

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<b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by paganpippalee <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by paganpippalee <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by Darksidespiral <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by Kozmik_Ken <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by Kozmik_Ken <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by Kozmik_Ken <b>Cow and Calf Rocks</b>Posted by Kozmik_Ken


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The "Cow" which I find was called in 1807 "Inglestone Cow," a name now quite forgotten, bears no mean resemblance to a castle, while the "Calf" may be likened to a keep; the two rocks having possibly been united by a wall or bulwark of turf and stones forming a secure and chief enclosure. The "Cow," as it now stands, is I should say the largest detached block of stone in England, measuring eighty feet long, about thirty-six feet wide and upwards of fifty feet in height. From one point of view it presents, like the jutting face of Kilnsey Crag, as seen from the north side, the appearance of a huge sphinx, which may be intentional, or it may be natural, probably the latter.

The face of the rock bears a depression that looks like a human foot, and local tradition concerning it is that the genius of the moors, a certain giant Rumbald, was stepping from Almias Cliff on the opposite side of the valley, to this great rock, but miscalculating its height his foot slipped, leaving the impression we now see.

Both the "Cow" and the "Calf" have cups and channels on their surfaces, which were conjectured by Messrs. Forrest and Grainge in 1869 to be connected with Druidical priestcraft, and that their purpose was "to retain and distribute the liquid fuel which fed the sacred flame on grand festivals of the year."
From Upper Wharfedale by Harry Speight (1900).
Another page reads:
Cow and Calf, basin, cup and channel marked. Described above. Some think the "basins" are due to natural weathering. I have heard it said the "Calf" fell from the "Cow" during a terrific storm about a century ago, but this is extremely doubtful. Anciently the Cow was known as the Inglestone.
And here:
Many of the rocks have been broken up for making the roads and other purposes in recent times. The largest and most notable of these was a monster slipped-boulder which stood near the road below the "Cow and Calf." It was as large as an ordinary cottage and was known as the "Bull Rock." To the regret of many it was destroyed. Old people tell me that these isolated rocks have borne the names of Bull and Cow and Calf time out of memory, but no legend is known to attach to them.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd January 2013ce
Edited 23rd January 2013ce


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About the year 1850 an act of vandalism was perpetrated at Ilkley, which would have been impossible in these days, when the Ilkley Local Board watches with such a keen eye anything that may enhance the historical interest of this rapidly increasing watering-place.

Below the two huge rocks known as "The Cow and Calf," which have attracted thousands of visitors and invalids on to the breezy heights whereon they stand, stood a rock larger than the Calf, which was known as the "Bull." It was much nearer the highway than the Calf [...]

The "Bull" rock had its name cut in large letters on the side that lay nearest the road, and it is much to be regretted that an unfortunate dispute between the owners of the free-hold and the lord of the manor, in which the former won the day, gave them the right to break up this noble rock and cart it away for building purposes. It is said that the Crescent Hotel wwas mainly built from this stone, so some idea may be formed of its vast size and proportions...
Admittedly pretty much repeating what's been said below, but with a hint to its whereabouts. From the Local Notes and Queries section of The Leeds Mercury, Jan 21nd, 1899.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th December 2008ce
Edited 27th December 2008ce

I have since found a reference by Harry Speight from the mid-19th C that records cup and groove markings on both the Cow and Calf rocks. Now presumably lost under footwear and grafitti. Kozmik_Ken Posted by Kozmik_Ken
2nd February 2004ce

The most prominent landmark for miles around. There are no visible megalithic remains at this huge rock outcrop, but local folklore refers to this being a place worthy of strong consideration.

I've always found it a little strange that as the most prominent landmark for miles around, the Cow n' Calf didn't bear any cup n' ring marks as they can be found both to the left and the right of the outcrop. It is possible that any that may have been on the rock could have been lost under the onslaught of Victorian graffiti or the wear of thousands of pairs of feet every year.

The surface of the outcrop is worth a view just for the modern (mostly Victorian) graffiti, which is similar to dobbing around a churchyard reading gravestones.

It is thought that the Cow n' Calf name originates not from it's appearance, but from a tradition of lighting beacons on the rocks.

"The larger rock was once known as the 'Inglestone Cow'... The Scottish dialect word, ingle, 'fire burning on a hearth', may come from the Gaelic aingeal, meaning 'fire' or 'light'.

"There is strong evidence of an old calendar custom in the British Isles, around Beltaine or springtime in general, where the old fires are extinguished and new ones are lit. Cattle are then driven between two fires to divinely protect them from disease. 'Imbolc' means 'purification'. Inglestone Cow... Fire-stone Cow."

Gyrus - Verbeia: Goddess of Wharfedale

The Cow and Calf rocks were once accompanied by a huge Bull Stone. But this was quarried away in Victorian times.
Kozmik_Ken Posted by Kozmik_Ken
16th October 2003ce